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Get to Know the DFB Pokal – The German Cup

The DFB Pokal is a domestic German football cup tournament that is organised by the German Football Association, or DFB. It is held every year and is open not only to teams in the two top leagues in the country, but local teams from all across the country as well.

The competition has been called "Die Mutter aller Pokalsensationen'' - which translates to the "Mother of All Cup Sensations''. This is because there have been some historical upsets in the competition, where amateur sides have knocked out Bundesliga teams.


The Deutscher Fussball-Bund, or DFB, was founded in 1900 as a federation of the regional associations. A cup competition, the Viktoria, was formed in 1903 for German teams to compete in. The cup was discontinued after the Second World War, but it was the first inter-regional cup across the country. In 1935, a new association called the DRA was created by the Nazi regime in Germany and overtook the DFB in the major domestic football competitions. The league was restructured, and a new cup competition called the Tschammer-Pokal was formed, named after the head of the DRA.

The competition was held from 1935 through to 1943, and was open to German clubs and those clubs that belonged to countries annexed by Germany in the 30s. Nurnberg won the first cup that was held in Dusseldorf in front of a crowd of 55,000. VfB Leipzig, Schalke 04, Dresdner SC, and 1860 Munich were the other German teams who won the cup, as did Austrian teams Rapid Wien and First Vienna.

After the war, Germany did not have any organised football competitions for a few years, but the Tschammerpokal was rebranded into the DFB Pokal and it was finally relaunched in 1952-53. The inaugural tournament featured 32 contestants, and was won by Rot-Weiss Essen. Only 8 teams came to the following competition, which was won by VfB Stuttgart. In 1955, 32 teams joined the competition again, and Karlsruher SC beat Schalke 04 in the finals to win their first German cup.

In the following years, only 4 or 5 teams could enter the competition. Karlsruher won their second title in 1956, and they were followed by Bayern Munich, VfB Stuttgart, Schwarz-Weiss Essen, and Borussia Mönchengladbach.

From 1961 through to 1964, the DFB Pokal was played between 16 clubs. Werder Bremen won their first title in 1961, and they were followed by 1 FC Nurnberg, who had last won it in 1939, Hamburger SC and 1860 Munich, who had last won it in 1942. In 1964, the Bundesliga was formed and German clubs could finally pay their players full wages. The number of entrants in the competition jumped to 32, and this remained for the rest of the decade. Borussia Dortmund, 1 FC Koln and Kickers Offenbach all won the title once, whilst Bayen Munich won three times during the decade.

Bayern Munich continued their dominance in 1971 by beating FC Koln in the finals to win their fifth DFB Pokal title. Schalke 04 won the following year, the first time they had won since 1937. Borussia Monchengladbach and Hamburger SV won the title once each in the 70s, whilst Eintracht Frankfurt, FC Koln and Fortuna Dusseldorf each won twice.

Eintracht Frankfurt won their third title in 1981, and the following year Bayern Munich extended their tally to 6. FC Koln won in the 1983 tournament, to have 4 titles, and Bayern Munich won in the following year. In the mid-80s through to 90s, Bayer Uerdingen, Bayern Munich, Hamburger SC, Eintracht Frankfurt, Borussia Dortmund and FC Kaiserlautern all won titles. The attendance of the finals in these years spiked, with 73,000 to 76,000 people turning up. During the 70s and early 80s, there were tournaments where there were 128 teams competing, but this number was reduced to 64 until 1991.

In the 90s, Werder Bremen, Hannover 96, Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Mönchengladbach, FC Kaiserslautern, VfB Stuttgart and Bayern Munich all won titles. Werder Bremen and Bayern Munich were the only teams to win two titles in the decade, but neither of the teams managed consecutive victories making this one of the most openly competitive decades in the DFB Pokal up until that point. The new millennium began with Schalke 04 winning two back to back titles, followed by Bayern Munich, Werder Bremen and then Bayern Munich winning another two titles in a row. FC Nurnberg won in 2007, their first win in the competition since 1962. Bayern Munich and Werder Bremen won the remaining cup titles in the decade.

In 2011, Schalke 04 won the title, and the following year, Borussia Dortmund won for the first time since 1989. Bayern Munich won the DFB Pokal in 20113 and 2014, and in 2015, VfL Wolfsburg won their first title. Bayern Munich won the title again in 2016, and in the following years, Borussia Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt won the DFB Pokal. Bayern Munich then won the titles in the two remaining years of the 2010s. In 2021, Borussia Dortmund won the title, beating RB Leipzig in the finals. The next year, RB Leipzig reached the finals once more, and there they beat SC Freiburg to win their first DFB Pokal title.


The DFB Pokal runs alongside the regular season, it starts in August and concludes in May of the following year. The 18 teams playing in the Bundesliga and the 18 from the Bundesliga 2 automatically qualify for the tournament, as well as the top 4 placing teams in the 3 Liga.

Lower ranking teams can also qualify for the DFB Pokal by winning the Verbandspokal, the regional cups that are open to all clubs from the 3 Liga and below. There are 21 regional associations, of which 24 clubs will qualify for the DFB Pokal.

The Round of 64 is played in early August. This is followed by the Round of 32 that is played in October, and the Round of 16 that is played in January. The quarterfinals are played in March, and then the semi-finals are held in April and the final is held in May, and is always played at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.

There are draws at every round up until the semi-finals, so that there are no teams that have "easier paths" and so that even the smaller teams will have a chance to make good runs in the tournament.

Fun Facts

The first televised football match in Germany was a replay of the final 16 round between FC St Pauli and Hamburg 07 in the DFB Pokal of 1952.

The DFB Pokal is famous for big upsets. There have been many matches in the history of the competition when an amateur team beat a Bundesliga side. In 1983, Gottinegen 05 beat Eintracht Frankfurt 4-2. In 1991, both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund were knocked out in the first round by amateur sides FV Weinheim and Greuther Furth. In 2001, FC Magdeburg caused two upsets, beating FC Koln in the first round and then beating Bayern Munich in the second round.

Popular Bets

Match Result

Match result bets are the most straightforward, these are bets on how a match will finish. For example, in a game between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, there will be a bet for Bayern to win, Dortmund to win, and for the game to end in a tie.


Punters can set handicaps on a team to either shorten or lengthen the odds offered on a team. There will be multiple handicaps available, both positive and negative, and these will be added or subtracted from the chosen team’s score at the end of the game. If the team wins the match with the adjusted score, then the bet pays out.

Goal Totals

These are bets on how many goals may be scored during a game. There are multiple betting lines that a punter can pick from, and they can place money on whether the game will finish with over or under the number of goals defined by the line.

Game Props

There may be many more bets that relate to match statistics such as how many corners there will be in a match, and bets on how a team may win a game, such as will a team win both halves or the correct score at the end of the match, and many more.

Live Bets

Punters will also have the option to place live bets during DFB Pokal fixtures. These bets are offered with real time odds, and can include options such as which team will score the first goal, will a team score two goals in the current half, and many more.

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